tree planting guide

Reminder: Call before you dig!

Call 811 before you dig! Calling ahead will help keep you and your home safe while planning and prepping your yard for planting. The service is fast, free, and no job is too big or too small!

Planting & Fertilizing

Dig a hole at least twice the width of the root-ball and the same depth. Thoroughly break up the soil that was removed from the ground and score the sides of the hole if your soil has a heavy clay component. Drainage issues can be helped by mixing pumice thoroughly into planting soil - mixing compost with existing soil was advised for years, but scientific research supports ending this practice.

Add organic fertilizer to the soil and mix.

tree plantingCarefully remove the tree from container. If there are large, circling roots open them up – roots should be fanning out, away from the trunk. If roots are wrapped in burlap, leave the burlap on when placing the tree into the hole. Be sure to remove twine from the base of the tree and pull burlap away from the trunk. Burlap will decompose in the ground over a short period of time.

Lower tree into hole. Make sure the base of the trunk is at ground level or slightly higher. If there is a graft (swollen point where trunk is attached to roots) it should remain above ground. A buried graft may rot, killing the tree. Just ask us if you are not sure whether your tree is grafted.

Gently but firmly backfill soil mixture into hole. If soil is dry, fill hole halfway and then water tree. After it drains, backfill with remaining soil and water slowly and thoroughly. Be sure not to pile soil around the base of the trunk.

Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!

Mulching is very important! Mulch is a layer of organic matter that sits on the surface of the soil. It keeps soil wetter and cooler in summer, drier and warmer in winter, and it helps to keep weeds at bay.

Cover the root zone with a 1-2” layer of mulch after planting. Use mulch to make a reservoir to keep water from running off by mounding a ring of mulch in a circle about 12-18” away from the trunk.


Drive stakes down 14” deep on either side of the tree – making sure not to damage the root ball. Attach both stakes to the tree with green stretchy tape approximately 4 feet up the stake. The height can vary slightly depending on tree size. Wrap tape around trunk 360°, and attach to the stake.

Be sure to allow enough slack for the tree to sway slightly in the wind - this will help it to build a strong root system, while protecting it from falling. Check the tightness of the tape periodically as the tree grows, replace it if it becomes too tight. Remove tape and stakes after 1 year.